The last few days have been filled with hard-fought competitions, maximum effort, and a lot of sportsmanship. Each member of #TeamSOILL has put in the work. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games as of Wednesday afternoon.
Our Athletics team has been working hard over at the track, pushing themselves to succeed, no matter how hard – or hot. Results so far include:
Kaydee Parini with a seventh place finish and Brandy Stowers with eighth place in the 400m. Caroline Colianne beat her 1500m time by two seconds and will receive an award later in the week, along with Matthew Gorski. Gorski beat his own 1500m time by five seconds. Ean Yerbic earned himself a fifth place finish in his 400m race, as did Gavin Morrow.
The Bocce team completed their singles play on Tuesday. Both female competitors worked hard and ended up on the podium; Kathleen Gastler took home the gold and Karyn Mrotek left with the bronze Our male competitors also rolled well, with Frank Kajdanowski finishing sixth and Kenny Ogden earning a silver medal.
After completing a game where he was heavily outmatched, Kenny was seen walking off the court with a huge smile on his face. When asked, Kenny said, “I have the smiley emoji stuck to my face.” He was so happy and excited to have had the chance to play someone so talented.
Members of the Bowling team had better clean off some space on their trophy shelves as well. The singles results came in with Alicia Marta in first place and Todd Peddycoart finishing second in their respective divisions. We also saw Nico Techen take third place and Lexie Slota take fifth.
Our Golf team has been swinging away at the Orange County National Golf Center. Todd Tomaszewski and Todd Mallo (Unified Partner) scored a 99 and 93 in 18 holes, and Allen Platt and Mike Malcolm scored a 58 and 57 in nine holes, respectively.
The all-around for Gymnastics took place on Tuesday, and the team and their fans were flipping out over these results. The female gymnasts brought home one gold from Maddie Harnar and two silvers from Colleen Costello and Mareena Mattison, each in their respective levels. The male gymnasts scored well in their respective levels, with Lucas Miezel coming in first, Chris Kenter in second, and both Daniel Baker and Kyle Tuckey in third.
Team Illinois has been lighting it up on the Powerlifting platform, and showing all of the spectators why you never give up. Both Brian McWhorter and James Naughton struggled on their first two squats, but they kept at it and came through strong on their final attempt. They finished in fourth and second, respectively. Additional results include:
Ben Brizzolara earning second in bench press and third in deadlift; Brian McWhorter earning third in bench press and deadlift, and fourth overall; and James McNaughton earning third in bench press and second in deadlift, squat, and overall.
Our Swimming team has made a splash over at Rosen Aquatic Center. Events are ongoing, but so far, results include:
Alexandrea Fix: 100 backstroke – second place
Catherine Reed: 100 backstroke – sixth place
Matthew Danaher: 100 backstroke – seventh place
Joseph Coffelt: 100 backstroke – first place
Sammy Jackson: 50 breaststroke – third place
Catherine Reed, Alexandrea Fix, Jenna Dobson, Katherine Harms: 4x50 free relay – fifth place
Our team sports, Flag Football and Unified Soccerhave both hit the field with confidence. Unified Soccer is currently 2-1 in pool play. The loss came in their first game, after which they came together as a team and won the next two. Stay tuned for more information on how the division plays out later in the week.
Flag Football started the week off with a solid victory. After scoring on the first two possessions and a near interception on defense, they went out to win 47-6. The next game was a nail biter, even going into overtime. They played hard, but were defeated by Tennessee 13-19. For their third game, the team also came out with the victory, defeating Pennsylvania 19-18.
Congratulations to our new national champions in Unified eSports! Richards High School students, Stephanie, Kade, and Unified Partner, Josh, swept their competition in yesterday’s final round, securing first place in the USA Games’ first-ever competition level eSports tournament.
Also rocking the competition was Limestone Community High School, who made it to the quarterfinals, but lost to Richards. Congratulations to both teams!
#TeamSOILL deserves to celebrate. There were wins, as well as losses, but all were brave in the attempt. Way to go, TEAM! You got this.
McKenzie and Katrina, our Youth Leadership Experience Unified pair, are having a blast at USA Games. They are learning about all sides of the event, from volunteering, to storytelling, and more. Follow along on the Unified Champion Schools Instagram channel to see what they are up to. Plus, check out their daily recaps on our TikTok account.
We are excited to have three athletes reporting from Orlando and creating content at the USA Games, from interviews, to reflections of their experiences, to words of encouragement for the athletes competing. Check those out here:
In case you missed it, #TeamSOILL flag football athlete Ryan Gronowski and family were featured on Good Morning America on Monday, and even got a special visit from none other than Tim Tebow!
Watch Good Morning America: Special Olympics athlete Ryan Gronowski takes the big stage
Click here for more media coverage of our athletes!
You can also check out our Flickr page for all the latest photos as they are uploaded.
We will be back one last time to give you all the details of the last few days in Orlando. Until then, let’s go #TeamSOILL!